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[English translation below – courtesy of Joanna Krawczyk]
AN ORWELLIAN HORSE FARM | A PURGE IN THE FAMOUS STATE STUD
by Aleksandra Gumowska
Nothing has united Polish people – from left to right, from Catholics to atheists – as much as the stupid and unjust dismissals of the Directors of the Arabian State Studs.
Mr. Skomorowski, the new acting president of the Arabian State Stud in Janów Podlaski, closed the office for the night and, dressed in a rarely seen dark suit, headed along pine tree lined path toward the small hotel located in the neighboring building. When the lights went off, the stables lit up, abuzz with commotion.
“I can smell fear from the people,” stated the stallion Pogrom.
“And anger,” added the mare Piniata.
“And sadness,” the grey Pomian nodded with his beautiful head.
It was on Friday afternoon that the animals found out that the man who took care of them for almost 38 years, president Marek Trela, was dismissed. At around 3 pm they noticed a car pull up to the office, out of which two people emerged. Mirosław Helta from the Agricultural Property Agency handed Trela a notice of termination with immediate effect and Marek Skomorowski presented a contract, in which was stated that he would be taking over management duties. He asked for the keys to the car, as he needed the vehicle to return immediately to Lublin. The news among the more than 450 Janów horses spread immediately.
Lazybones, the cat, eavesdropping during the first meeting with the staff, overheard “the New Guy” forbid the Janow Podlaski employees from talking to the press.
“He can’t forbid the horses,” the bay Pogrom snorted angrily. “We will talk on their behalf.”
Lazybones threw George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” on the ground. “We must read this and discover the best strategy for rebellion. We cannot give in to swine.”
Will Horses Succumb to Depression?
That same day, on Friday, February 19th, a notice of termination was handed to all three of the most respected and accomplished Arabian horse specialists in Poland: At 11:00 am to Anna Stojanowska, main horse breeding specialist from the Agricultural Property Agency; and in the afternoon Jerzy Białobok, the president at Michałów Stud and the afore mentioned Trela at Janów. “For the past several years, the Agency has made the directors’ life a nuisance when the financial results were on the low,” points out Marek Szewczyk, the former chief editor of Koń Polski. “Today the Agency lashed out against a fantastically managed company that brings Poland a tremendous amount of fame. 2015 was the best year in the history of Janów Podlaski. Even the cows set records in milk production.”
The Newsweek reporter even called the new acting president, but he was in Warsaw at the time and said that he definitely would not meet with her. This occurred after he spoke about his previous professional experiences: “I have always liked horse very much, but I have not had any close encounters with them.”
And: “I have already asked and now understand that the cows are still giving milk, and the horses have not succumbed to depression and are behaving normally. I don’t think I did them any harm.”
The stud earns income not only from horse breeding, but also from raising dairy cattle and crops. The greatest fame, however, comes from its Arabian horses.
Pinga: bay, beautiful and moody, awaits her return home from Saudi Arabia. She has made people – both in suits and in long robes with headscarves – get up from their chairs and cheer, applaud and wave their hands in awe. She’s a lady, a star, a diva. She was at her show ring best – which for her is always incredible – in November in Paris, where she was crowned World Platinum Champion, the highest recognition in the world for an Arabian mare. In Paris ten more Janów-bred horses found themselves among the best in the world, whereas Michałów Stud and its president were recognized as the Best Breeder of the World Championships.
“No wonder people are pissed,” the four year old Piniata scoffed, shaking her mane. “At a staff meeting five days after the New Guy took Trela’s car keys, he threatened stating ‘if someone doesn’t like what’s going on, he won’t be stopping them’.”
Pride of Poland
“This guy has straw sticking not only out of his shoes, but also his mouth,” adds Pieta, a bay 13-year old. Pieta doesn’t like strangers; she’s not very trusting. Though she comes from Janów, she is currently a guest here. She was purchased a few years ago in the Pride of Poland sale, held annually each August in Janów Podlaski, for 300 thousand euro by Shirley Watts, wife of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts.
Pieta returned to Janów to be bred and, without any problem, she returned safely in foal. Horses from Janów and Michałów have been purchased by princes from the Arabian Gulf, director Mike Nichols (“The Graduate”) and country singer Kenny Rogers. The annual Pride of Poland Sales are flooded by sheikhs and businessmen.
“This is simply whoredom,” states Pogrom simply, not even attempting to mask his outrage. Even he has already heard about the indignation of the sheikhs and breeders from all over the world. If it was Pogrom that had to talk with the New Guy, things would not go down so peacefully. Muscular, always focused and ready for battle, he knows his own strength. You either work according to his rules, or you change the trainer. So utterly handsome, all the mares sigh with affection in his presence. His large, dark eye is a commanding feature of his masculinity; his head could perhaps be slightly more dished, as is expected in Arabians, but he more than makes up for it with his harmonious build. He won every single championship in the USA in which he competed.
Digging Up Some Dirt
The Minister of Agriculture, Krzysztof Jurgiel, ensures that the people that have been appointed to replace those dismissed have the right qualifications and that these managers will be further supported by experts just as good as those just fired. This was his message to the Polish Parliament, but the horse breeding community is reeling with laughter and despair. Because there are no such qualified people in Poland. “There are people with some qualifications, but speaking in racing terms, they are several lengths behind the dismissed threesome,” specifies Marek Szewczyk.
The animals are trying to find out what is the cause of this sudden change. There were successes, there was income, the horses were happy. During the show season they could count on regular training with personal trainers, prior to the shows a spa several times a week – warm baths, moisturizing shampoos, softening conditioners, mane and tail detangling conditioners, body lotions.
“They will turn the authors of the Stud’s successes into criminals!” Pogrom is far from staying calm. “They are saying that Trela is responsible for Pianissima’s death.”
“Rubbish,” neighs the tiny bay filly Pamina. “I was there.”
Pamina is the yearling daughter of Pianissima. When she was born, Trela went to the stable, looked and nibbled on his moustache. He said nothing, but departed waving his staff the way he always does when an outstanding foal is born.
“Pianissima was a common girl who became a queen,” sighs Pieta. She won all the most prestigious awards and titles, among them the ultimate honour – World Platinum Champion Mare. “And she died like a normal horse. “A day earlier we presented ourselves at the autumn breeding inspection. The next morning everything was also fine. Only later that day did she start feeling uncomfortable, turning around, sweating on her neck and shoulders. The doctor took her to the Clock Stable, listened to her intestines and there was nothing – silence,” Pamina recalls woefully.
It was a torsion of the colon – which traps gases and feedstuff inside. Horses can neither burp, nor fart to relieve the pressure. Upon hearing the news of the colic, Trela instructed an immediate transport to Warsaw. Upon arrival, the doctors discovered that she was beyond saving. They helped Pianissima pass on to greener pastures, responsibly and humanely.
“They’re digging up dirt,” states Pogrom, Pamina’s father, without any doubts. He has heard there was an autopsy, reports – everything is documented. Pianissima’s mother also died from colic complications due to a colonic torsion.
“They’re making criminals out of those most responsible for our success. When Trela envisioned Pianissima, then mated her sire and dam, and later promoted her to all her successes, no one thanked him,” chimes in Piniata, for good measure.
Fascists, Communists, 4th Polish Republic
“Quiet, quiet!” Lazybones the cat tries to keep the horses calm. He has just returned from an inspection around Janów, the pastures and the stud. “People don’t see any future for Janów Podlaski and Michałów Studs. Breeding and selling mistakes made already in the first year would result in a inferior generations to follow, which would further cause damage to the prestige and reputation of the entire program. And what if they decide to sell the best of you in an attempt to fix the budgetary shortfall in the government? What if they start treating the stud as an ATM machine?”
“And what if they abandon us?” asks Piniata, the slightly haughty daughter of the diva Pinga. Strangers frighten her. At the shows she often hides behind the back of her presenter, who is much smaller than her.
“People have never abandoned us,” says Pomian, Pinga’s brother, comforting her. Trusting, he likes when people ride him. “Remember when Trela showed the Prince of Bahrain around, who brought with him a stallion as a gift for the stud? And then one of the grooms came up to him and said that one of the horses may be lame? He said “Please wait” to the prince,” recalls Piniata. “And went to see the horse.”
The older horses recall what their grandparents told them, heard in turn from their grandparents, and so on. When, during the evacuation of horses in 1939, four young stallions broke loose and ran away, the pre-war stud director, Stanisław Pohoski, wanted to commit suicide. It turned out that they were the ones that survived, because the Russians took 350 Janów-bred horses to the Caucasus and the Germans wanted to rebuild the stud, so they sent out patrols in search of the runaways. When, in January of 1944, the Germans ordered another evacuation – this time to the Reich – they threw out other Germans from the wagons so that more horses would fit. They stopped the train when a mare lay down to deliver her foal. The horses survived air raids on Dresden, lived to see the end of the war in Germany and returned to Poland. The communists, even during the period of martial law, allowed horses to travel to the World Championships in Paris.
“Still that doesn’t prove that we will survive the 4th Republic of Poland,” Piniata stutters, unconvinced.
Upon hearing these words Peanut the cat, usually hidden in the corner of the staff room, emerges to be seen and heard by everyone. He heard on the radio that horsemen from around the world have never been so outraged. The English version of the petition was signed by over four thousand people from Europe, USA, Australia, Israel and the Arabian homeland, as well as political party members from PIS, PO and Kukiz, and diverse believers such as Catholics and atheists.
Lazybones the cat again brings tidings. Amongst breeders, rumours have been swirling that behind the dismissal of the three specialists, are two people: PIS Senator Jan Dobrzyński and Andrzej Wójtowicz. Both breed Arabian horses. Dobrzyński used to manage the deputy office of the current Minister of Agriculture, Krzysztof Jurgiel. Both have come in conflict many times with Trela, Białobok and Stojanowska. People are saying that the dismissals are their form of revenge.
Wójtowicz denies involvement. Dobrzyński was unavailable to speak.
It is unknown whether the next, the 48th Pride of Poland Sale, will take place in August. It is unknown whether next year the 200th anniversary of the Janow Podlaski will take place. It is also not known who will choose the stallions for the mares, who will decide which horses will be presented at the shows. All of these decisions were made by the dismissed presidents.
Stojanowska, the dismissed Inspector, does not foresee any chance of cooperating successfully with the Agricultural Property Agency under the current management. Trela is also doubtful of a positive resolution of the situation, because in his opinion, things have gone too far. Terminating his contract is one thing, but being threatened with potential prosecution for the death of Pianissima, over which everyone wept and mourned, from the Director to the grooms, is – in his opinion – crossing the line.
In this situation the concern is for the dismissed directors, both fired very close to retirement. Both received job offers already the next day. Not in Poland, because there are no studs in Poland of similar significance.
“But is that what we want, to have them breed horses in the Middle East?” asks Barbara Mazur, co-organizer of Pride of Poland.
For now the foals born this spring will be the results of matings envisioned and planned by Trela and Białobok. On Thursday in Janów Podlaski, a colt was born. It is not known whether Trela would have waved his staff at the sight of him…
English Translation courtesy of Joanna Krawczyk